Every Tuesday afternoon, 20-25 students at Pahrump Valley High School stay after school and report to teacher Dave Harris’ room. It’s not because they are being disciplined; on the contrary.
This group of young leaders are members of the Key Club and they meet weekly to plan their upcoming community service events. Anyone attending an event in Pahrump is bound to see some Key Club members lending a hand.
Most recently, they could be seen at Walmart and Smith’s with the red kettles and bells helping the Salvation Army with its holiday bell ringing campaign. The Key Club raised close to $9,000 during their assigned shifts.
Harris has been the school adviser for the club for seven years. He was a member of the Circle K Club in college, the companion organization for Kiwanis International at the collegiate level.
“You know you get to work with some real good kids,” Harris said. “These kids actually care, they’re committed. For the most part they’re pretty decent academically.”
The Key Clubbers have also helped at the “Pumpkin Days” fundraising event to benefit Pahrump Disability Outreach Program (PDOP), the Relay for Life and Bark for Life events which benefit the American Cancer Society, the Pahrump Balloon Festival, the dog show sponsored by the Pahrump Valley Obedience Club and the Halloween “Safe Night” held at the Pahrump Valley Auto Plaza, just to mention several on the club’s long list of outreach activities.
“Our kids are pretty active,” Harris stated. “I think on the average, we average 3,000 community service hours a year.”
They may even reach 4,000 hours this year.
Harris added that community service is important since many college applications include it.
Reva Braun has been the Kiwanis adviser for the PVHS Key Club for eight years because she loves working with the kids.
“That’s why I joined Kiwanis, not the other way around,” she said. “I joined Kiwanis so I could work with the Key Club when I joined them, that was the agreement that I would get the Key Club.”
Braun was involved with the Kiwanis and the Key Club in New York before moving to Pahrump.
She coordinates the multiple community service projects in which the Key Club members are involved.
“We’re looking for other organizations that need our help,” Braun said. “We’re not stopping at what we do. My goal is to have our association with every group here that needs help.”
Senior Elaine Quiroz is Key Club president. She said being a member teaches you a lot of “life lessons” such as job experience, how to deal with people, “definitely leadership and speaking skills”.
“I’ve had a problem with that before; I couldn’t talk at all and now I’m able to speak with others without freaking out as much,” Quiroz said.
One of her favorite community service projects is the Bark for Life, which is similar to the Relay for Life except you can bring your dog to the event to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
“Well, I’ve always liked helping people,” said senior Samantha Rich, who is the club’s treasurer. “So, it’s helped me get out of my shell and be more outspoken and helping, yeah.”
Rich thinks she will continue with community service in college by joining the Circle K Club.
Braun would like to see the students become Kiwanis Club members as adults. She said many of the students going on to college sometimes have difficulty finding a Circle K Club in college, but UNLV does have one.
Junior Madison Shay, vice president, has been in Key Club for three years.
“It has opened me up to a lot of opportunities in the community and it prepares me for my college hours that it also gives you,” Shay said. “I just think it’s like a great way to make connections in the community as well, and kind of get more aware of what’s going on in the community.”
Sophomore Shaylen Morales, co-vice president and first-year member, said she joined to expand her opportunities.
“I want to get more involved in the community and see more how Pahrump worked from a different state such as Arizona, when I was a little bit involved in Key Club, but not as much as I am here in Pahrump,” she said.
The students keep a sheet logging their community service hours along with the groups they are helping. They have to volunteer enough hours to be considered a “full-fledged” member. The officers need to tally more hours.
Senior Jeniffer Huerta, a three-year member and club secretary, joined “to step up who I was.”
“It made me become who I am today, helping everyone and I just like to see people smile,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun and you get to meet new people. And people are excited that these volunteers are willing to help. And it also makes you stay out of trouble.”
Senior Emilio Ceniceros volunteered at the dog obedience show, “Safe Night” Halloween, the Inter-Tribal Powwow, and participated in the Salvation Army bell ringing. He thinks his experience with the Key Club will benefit him after graduation since it gives “experience on how to build work ethic,” and should help in “being able to talk to other people and make new friends.”
Freshman Samantha Mansuy joined to help improve her job skills for the future.
“I was really shy before I did this so it’s kinda been like breaking my shell,” Mansuy said.
Also, she wants to follow in the footsteps of the other members.
“It’s really fun; it’s like a thing to do with your friends and help out to make the community a better place.”
“If I didn’t think that this was important, I wouldn’t be involved in it,” Harris said. “I think to get these kids to volunteer, not so much to be so concerned about themselves, but to be concerned about others, the less fortunate. I mean it has to be taught.”
When you’re ringing the bell you talk to homeless guys and the kids need to be exposed to that he said.
Principal Chris Brockman said in a statement he really appreciates the Key Club because they are a vital part of the school and community.
The Key Club works mainly with nonprofit organizations, but they will help businesses, if needed.
For further information contact Reva Braun at 775-727-0911.
“We do not charge a fee of any sort to come out and help anyone,” Braun added.